Holiday Pet Hazards
The holidays are fast approaching, making this a stressful time for both you and your pets. In the chaos it can be easy to lose track of furry, feathery or scaly family members, but keeping them safe isn’t as hard as you might think. Here are some general tips for keeping your animals safe during the holidays.
Often left off hazard lists are small children. We love our young family members, but they may come from a household without pets, or not know how to act around animals. An excited child could injure a small pet easily, or annoy a larger one until they lash out. Keep easily-moved cages in a quiet room out of the way so the animal isn’t stressed, and make sure cats and dogs have a place they can escape to if they get overwhelmed. If a child would like to see or handle a small pet, show them the proper way to do so, and supervise them the entire time to make sure they learn proper handling techniques. Young kids should never be left alone with animals, even friendly ones. Your loving dog is still capable of biting if his ears get pulled on by a child who doesn’t know any better.
If you have a pet bird especially, be aware of fumes. Animals have sensitive noses that can be irritated by scented candles and strong cooking odors. It’s birds that have to worry the most about this, though. Pans coated with Teflon and other nonstick cookware release fumes that can kill birds instantly. Parakeets and cockatoos are especially sensitive. Keep your birds (and all your pets) far away from the kitchen when you cook, and if you own a bird, consider replacing your Teflon cookware with stainless steel.
Always keep in mind what food is and isn’t safe to give your pets. Chocolate contains theobromine, which is toxic to dogs in large enough amounts, so keep your dog well out of the kitchen when you’re making cookies this holiday. Don’t give your pets high fat leftovers like chicken skin or meat drippings, lest they end up getting sick on your floor, and never give your pets cooked bones. These can choke your pets or splinter in their stomachs. Additionally, certain nuts may make your dog ill. Do not give your dog almonds, walnuts, pistachios or macadamia nuts. Keep those snack bowls far out of reach.
Watch out for your decorations. Dangly ornaments and shiny tinsel may be very appealing to your kitty, but both are lethal if ingested. Place potentially hazardous ornaments out of your pet’s reach. If you have animals inclined to chew, such as a hamster or rabbit, supervise them closely to make sure they don’t try eating your ornaments or chewing on light strings. Don’t leave lit candles in easy-to-reach places either. A clumsy pet could knock it over and spill hot wax onto themselves or your furniture. Pets also love to chew on ribbons, which may become bunched and tangled in the intestines if swallowed, and require surgery to remove.
With winter comes heavy snow in many areas, and with snow comes power outages. Have an emergency plan ready for your pets and family. Keep your pet’s carrier handy with several days’ worth of food, water, and medication if necessary. Plan for a place you can stay or drop your pets off at if they can’t stay at your home. This can be especially hazardous if you have reptiles, which require high temperatures just to metabolize their food, and fish, who are not as easily transported. If a threatening storm is approaching, leave your animals with someone who can care for them until the danger has passed.
Take care of your pets and family this holiday! With a little diligence, this time of year can be enjoyable and relatively stress-free for everybody.